Danes celebrate Midsummer differently to the Swedes. So, if you fancy doing it a bit different this year, follow this mini-guide
Pick the right date
Midsummer in Denmark is mostly known as Sankt Hans Aften, and is celebrated on 23rd June. We don’t move the date around like the Swedes do. In some parts of the British Isles St John’s Eve is observed at the same time. They’re essentially the same event.
Collect a lot of sticks
In a similar way to our British and Irish cousins, Danish midsummer is all about bonfires. Ideally on a beach or in a town square. Big, huge bonfires. Start collecting twigs now; you’ll need a lot.
Get back into witch burnings
Top off your bonfire with a few straw witches dressed in old lady clothes. Legend says that on the longest night of the year, you burn a few witches and send them off to Brocken mountain in Germany to dance with the Devil. Some stuff the witches with firecrackers, which is not a good idea and quite possibly against the law here. Yes, it’s a bit like Guy Fawkes except it’s not about blowing up parliaments.
Have a summery dinner with friends and family
Every Scandi tradition revolves around food. Because the bonfire is not lit until 10pm, you have plenty of time for a Danish midsummer buffet in the garden. In the rain. It is likely to be raining at some point. Don’t forget umbrellas.
Find an excuse to go skinny dipping
This is where we deviate from the Brits. If you happen to celebrate by the beach, you’ll need minimal encouragement to get your kit off for a swim. In town squares, wait and see what everybody else fancies doing. But do accept that sometimes the skinny dipping doesn’t happen.
The Danes believe they invented snobrød, which are pieces of bread dough rolled around a wooden stick and cooked on the bonfire. If you’ve ever seen campfire twisted bread, you’ll have a good idea of what snobrød is, because it is the same thing.
Eat your snobrød
It’s unlikely that the snobrød will actually ever bake properly, unless you twist and turn it for about two hours over the last embers of the bonfire – and who wants to do that? If you can get the half-baked dough off the stick, fill the hole with strawberry jam. It doesn’t taste any nicer, but it sure doesn’t make it any worse. Eating unbaked dough will leave you with a stomach ache – all part of the experience.
Sausages! You need sausages. Throw them onto the fire, scramble around looking for them with a stick, poke them until you’re sure they’re on fire, remove from bonfire. Eat. Burn tongue. Enjoy. Make your kids do the same to help them develop fond memories of Danish Midsummer on the beach.
Vi elsker vort land
We Love Our Country is a song also known as ‘Midsommervisen’ – the midsummer song. It’s an old hymn about midsummer and how much we love our country. Nobody ever knows the second verse. However, everyone knows the modern version by Shu-bi-dua, an old Danish pop group. We all prefer this version. Someone will play other songs by Shu-bi-dua. We may all join in with their classic song (There Is A) Dogshit In My Garden, because this is how Danes roll. We all giggle.
The guy with the guitar
If you see the guy with the guitar, either run or stay close, depending on how you feel. He will almost certainly have a beard and look a bit like Thor (if Thor was born in 1971). He usually sings with his eyes closed. His name is Bent. Or Kaj. Or Flemming. He will encourage everybody to hold hands.
You’re on the beach, man. Drink beer. If you go to the beach with someone’s parents, they will bring a box (yes, a box) of wine and plastic glasses half full of sand. Stick to Tuborg. You’ve been warned.
Ha’ en dejlig midsommer aften!
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